Cork politicians urge highest level of compliance after some employees able to work from home issued with 'essential worker' letters

Cork politicians urge highest level of compliance after some employees able to work from home issued with 'essential worker' letters

It has emerged that some employees that were able to work from home have now been given ‘essential worker’ letters by their employers, and some have been warned of potential disciplinary action for not attending their workplace.

The Minister for Public Expenditure has called for the “highest possible level of compliance” with Covid-19 restrictions from employers, both public and private.

His comments come as there are fears Level Five restrictions are not being adhered to as closely as during the initial lockdown in March and April.

It has emerged that some employees that were able to work from home have now been given ‘essential worker’ letters by their employers, and some have been warned of potential disciplinary action for not attending their workplace.

Speaking to The Echo, Minister Michael McGrath said: “While we know moving to Level Five is really tough on people, the restrictions will only work if we get the buy-in from all sectors of society.

“As the Minister with overall responsibility for the public service, I am satisfied that the requirement for public servants to work from home wherever possible has been fully communicated across the public service.

“We need to make sure that these restrictions have the maximum impact on the transmission of the virus, so I would just emphasise the need for the highest possible level of compliance in the private and public sector, and across civic society as well,” the Cork South Central representative continued.

Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould said his party believes the government should put measures in place to ensure that workers are facilitated with remote working for health and safety reasons and because of a global pandemic.

“We believe that sanctions should be in place for employers who fail to adhere to the restrictions and we have tabled legislation which would make Covid-19 recognisable as a workplace injury and this would mean that the HSA would be notified of every case,” he said.

His party colleague, Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, said any employer forcing staff into the workplace when their job can be done from home is “acting in a way that undermines the public health advice".

“That is wrong, and these employers, including as I understand it, some very well known employers in the city and county, need to reflect on that, and change course.” He also urged people to contact their union or the workplace safety unit of the HSA if they are concerned.

Fine Gael’s health spokesperson, Colm Burke said that employers are, where possible, trying to accommodate people to work from home, but warned: “All employers have to comply with the regulations.” He added: “It’s a case of everyone working together to try and get a suitable compromise where people’s lives are not put at risk and reduce the spread of this virus.”

More in this section

Sponsored Content